IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Virgin Galactic space plane takes first test passenger into space

Astronaut trainer Beth Moses joined two pilots on the space tourism company's latest test flight.
Image: Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo at the Mojave Space Port in California on Feb. 22, 2019.
Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo at the Mojave Space Port in California on Feb. 22, 2019.Virgin Galactic / AFP - Getty Images
/ Source:

Two months after reaching the edge of space for the first time, Virgin Galactic's spacecraft Unity has done it again.

Virgin Galactic sent three human beings on Unity for the first time in Friday's supersonic test flight, which reached three times the speed of sound on its way up. Just before the flight, Richard Branson's space tourism company told CNBC that astronaut trainer Beth Moses is on the company's spacecraft Unity, along with the two pilots.

"Beth Moses is on board as a crew member," a Virgin Galactic spokeswoman told CNBC. "She will be doing validation of some of the cabin design elements."

This is the first time Virgin Galactic carried three human beings on its ride to the edge of space. In previous test flights, the two pilots were the only ones inside of the spacecraft.

Virgin Galactic's spacecraft Unity holds up to six passengers along with the two pilots. As the company has more than 600 would-be astronauts signed on to launch, Moses' work is key to preparing Virgin Galactic for commercial operations. Tickets for Virgin Galactic's flights are priced at $250,000 each.

In December, the company completed its longest rocket-powered flight ever, with its two pilots becoming Virgin Galactic's first astronauts. That test flight reached an altitude of 51.4 miles, or nearly 83 kilometers. The U.S. government consider pilots who have flown above 80 kilometers to be astronauts.

Want more stories about spaceflight?